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PlayStation emulator creator defeats Sony – almost

Judge dismisses seven of nine Sony infringement claims

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Connectix has nearly won its battle with Sony over its PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS).

Yesterday, the San Francisco District Court threw out almost all aspects of Sony's attempt to block the sale of VGS on the grounds of copyright and trademark infringement. The verdict follows last February's appeal win by Connectix against a preliminary injunction granted to Sony last year which prevented the software developer from shipping VGS.

Of course, it's not over yet for Connectix. Following the February ruling, Sony fired off a second action against the company alleging that VGS violates Sony patents.

The appeals judge pointed out in his ruling that while the court that heard the original case against Connectix had made a mistake in granting the preliminary injunction on the grounds of copyright infringement. However, he noted Sony might have had a case for a ban had it included patent infringement in its suit.

Sony took the hint, and fired off a second suit accordingly. A court hearing brought by Connectix to dismiss this second action will be convened on two days' time.

It's also worth noting that Connectix isn't out of the woods on the copyright case, either. While Judge Charles Legge threw out seven of Sony's claims against the software developer, that still leaves two points to be settled: one of unfair competition and another that focuses on alleged trade secrets violation. Connectix reckons it's got both points covered, and is confident of victory.

Certainly the unfair competition point seems unlikely to get through, but Connectix may have trouble with the trade secrets issue, having admitted already to copying Sony's proprietary PlayStation BIOS. Judge Legge set up a three-month period to review the two parties' arguments, so it will be some time before a ruling is made on these points.

Meanwhile, all this is good news for fellow emulator developer Bleem! which recently announced a version of its PlayStation emulator for Sega's Dreamcast console. Bleem! has had rather more success with its defence against Sony's legal machine than Connectix, but it's hard to see Sony letting this one go by, particularly since it (indirectly) involves a direct competitor, Sega. ®

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